Chapter 32

"Son? Are you ok?"

Mark woke with a bit of a start. He was lying face down in a ditch, not really sure where he was or how he got there. He remembered running away from the alien craft as fast as he could. After that, he wasn't quite as sure.

Mark looked up at the fuzzy figure looming over him. "Are you hurt?" the figure asked.

"No, no, I think I just got a bit lost...," Mark half mumbled.

The figure laughed. "I can understand that." He helped Mark get to his feet and helped him to the road. The figure looked back for a few seconds at the spot where Mark had lain before continuing. "Well, I suppose I should introduce myself. Hi, I'm Bob." He smiled.

"Uhm, hi, I'm... Mark" Mark said as he shook the offered hand.

Bob returned to a more concerned look. "I don't remember seeing you around here before. Are you lost? Can I help you in any way?"

"No," Mark said at first, then reconsidered. He could use some help. "Well, actually maybe. Although I don't know if you can really help me out."

Bob shrugged. "Me neither, but we don't know for sure until we try. Hey, my house isn't that far away. How about we head back there, get you something to eat or drink and I let you make a few calls. Sound like a plan?"

Mark wasn't really sure. For all he knew this Bob guy was an axe-murdering psychopath.

He held a quick running debate with himself and the myriad of nightmare images dredged up from a lifetime of horror movies.

"Look, if it makes you feel any better, I'm married, and the only axe I have is twenty years old and duller than butter," Bob said, as if reading Mark's mind.

Mark nearly smiled. "Well, how do you know I'm not the axe-murderer?"

Bob shrugged again. "I don't. But then I've got my dog for protection." He smiled again. This time Mark returned it fully.

"Seriously, are you in trouble with the law or something?" Bob asked.

"No, not the law, I don't think," Mark hesitated, not really sure what to say. He supposed the truth might work. Worst case, this Bob guy thinks he's nuts or pulling his chain. "It's more like aliens, and superheroes."

Bob smiled again, but this time -- differently. Mark recognized it. It was a smile that Mark had whenever he was planning on a bit of fun. "Oh, I definitely think I can help you in that area. C'mon, let's go get you cleaned up a bit." Bob put his arm around the boy and lead the way. He stole one more glance behind him at where Margie had found Mark. Margie was now sniffing at the spot where Mark had lain on the ground, and where a perfect shadow image of Mark now lay, frozen in quartz.

'Good Girl, Margie,' Bob thought to himself, 'Take a good read on that.'


"He was just lying in a ditch?" Avey said with growing concern. "You don't think he's some sort of druggie, do you Bob?"

"No, no, I think he was just tired, lost, and more than a little scared. Is this the last of the decaf tea?"

"Yes, I'll add it to the list. Do you think just one sandwich is enough? I mean, is he homeless?"

"I don't think so. I think he's just caught up in something that's a bit bigger than he is."

"Well, should we tell the authorities?"

"Nah, I offered to give him a ride home if he wants it, and he's free to call his folks or whoever anytime."

"Where's he now?"

"Well, he and Margie were out playing in the back earlier...," Bob leaned out to look out the window. He could see Margie back looking into the house. "Mark?" he called out.

"I'm in the back. Can I check my e-mail?" Mark called back from the den.

"Sure, I'm logged in already."

Bob collected the tea and sandwiches and gave Avey a quick peck on the cheek. "I better go check up on him." Avey still looked concerned, but she trusted her husband.

Bob walked into the Den of Evil and set the tray down on the desk's last remaining bit of free space. "I brought you a sand... whoa!"

Bob looked at his computer's monitor. The image was crisper than it ever had been, and small windows flew across the screen at a dizzying rate as Mark checked his mail.

"I hope you don't mind, but I did a few upgrades to your system. It's the least I can do for you. I mean you've been like the nicest guy I've met, even if you do use AOL. And besides, your system must have been, like, five years old."

"Seven actually," Bob said. "What kind of 'upgrades' did you do?"

"Well, I boosted the chip a bit to 4Gig. I'd have done more except you've only got a P2 in here. I also redid the RAM a bit and sped up the bus while I was at it. Oh, and brought the temperature down so you can overclock it if you want. It's funny, your system seems way easy to work on. I kinda got carried away and upped your video as well. Hope you don't mind."

Bob looked at his computer. It was still firmly wedged into it's place and still had all his old disks lying on top of it. Whatever upgrades had been made, Mark had managed to do them without entering the CPU.

"Mark, exactly how did you do this?" Bob asked.

"I dunno, exactly. I just kinda think about making it go faster and it sorta does. It's like...," Mark turned to face Bob and grabbed a sandwich. "It's kinda like making a sandwich, except I tell the cheese to go here, and the turkey to go there, and all the mustard, err, electrons flow easier," Mark said while pointing to the sandwich.

"Can you do that to any computer, like, say Margie?"

"No, just normal ones. Margie's different. I can't really even 'feel' her. You know, I think she likes that."

"Well she seems to like you too," Bob said with a slight smile, "You're one of the first people she's met in a while that she didn't spook."

Mark laughed. "Margie? Yeah, I guess some folks could be pretty freaked about her. Guess I'm just different."

"That, my boy, is putting it mildly." Bob returned to the matter at hand. "What other things can you 'feel'?"

"Well, I can do some stuff with glass", Mark said as he picked up his drink.

"Like what?"

"Like bend it,... Oh man!" Iced tea poured out of the container, and Mark quickly tried to catch it. He put the glass on the table next to the computer. "I'm sorry, Mr. Malevolent, I spilled tea on the floor."

"It's ok, Mark, I'll get a few towels." Bob opened up the linen closet and grabbed the needful. He handed a towel to Mark, who immediately began dabbing up the tea from himself and the floor.

Bob, however, was looking at the glass. The bottom had broken - no, it had opened - as if obeying Mark's command. Bob set it aside out of sight to study later and placed his own glass in its place.

"Tell you what, Mark. Go into the room at the end of the hall. Third drawer on the tall dresser. I've got a bunch of T-shirts in there. Grab one and we'll get that shirt washed up for you."

Mark paused, looking a bit uncomfortable "Thanks, Mr. Malevolent, I'm sorry about all of this. I'm being a big pain."

"No, you're not, Mark, but I think you're discovering something new about yourself. I've got a bit of experience with things like that, and I might be able to help. Would you mind if we stayed in touch? Provided you tell your folks and they're ok with it."

"Uhm, sure, I guess."

"Well, check with your folks first. They can call me if they like. I'll make sure you have my number," Bob said. "Now, go get that t-shirt and ask Avey if she can wash that for you. I'd like to check a few things myself and admire your handiwork. Do you mind?"

"No, of course not, it's your computer. Besides, I didn't have anyt interesting mail, anyway," Mark said as he walked out of the room.

Bob looked at his computer. Fundamentally, it was the same, but the response time was phenomenal. It even seemed to download faster.

Bob brought up his instant messenger.


[ Slow fade from black to reveal a nondescript curb. In the background we see quite a number of feet walking by in either direction, occasionally pulling a wheeled suitcase. From the top of the frame we see a pair of women's feet clad in very expensive Italian strap heels striding purposefully to the curb. (We know they are expensive because of the inverse relationship between price and quantity of material inherent in any women's fashion). She reaches the curb and her feet stop, center of the frame. She shifts her weight to one foot as the other points down the sidewalk. From her stance we can tell that she'd obviously rather be anywhere else. Before the foot fetishists settle into a regular rhythm the camera slowly pans up her long lean legs. We hear her rustling through her purse as we glide slowly past the black micro skirt she's wearing. Eventually we hear the tell-tale duo-tone of speed-dial as we continue up her starched shirt and Gaultier jacket. She lifts the phone up to her ear and waits for an answer. She is young, well-to-do, Asian, and annoyed. She is Robyn Cheung. ]

Robyn
HR? Robyn. Ok, I'm in Boise.

[ We cut to an office that is lined with rich walnut. A traditional leather high back chair faces out a window and away from the camera. A voice speaks in the taught staccato of strict business. The voice is vaguely European, but the nationality cannot be easily identified. The owner prefers it that way. He likes to keep folks guessing, but then that's quite natural for someone like Hans-Raoul Galerkin or, simply Hans-Raoul as he is known by friends and the soon to be departed. ]

Hans-Raoul
Robyn, good, you're using the crypto. Did you have a pleasant flight?

Robyn
No, the sparkling wine they served was from California.

Hans-Raoul
You didn't bring your own?

Robyn
Sorry, I figured I didn't have time to stop off and grab a bottle.

Hans-Raoul
Well, no matter, you probably wouldn't have gotten it through security anyway. If you can find our objective, I promise you that you'll be able to fill your swimming pool with Dom Perinon.

Robyn
Did you managed to get any more information about this elem-?

Hans-Raoul
Robyn! Please I know we're on a secure line, but this is a matter of extreme security. Be careful what you say! Frankly, I think we're taking a huge risk simply sending you down to investigate. If the two of us both went, that would simply raise too many eyebrows in unwanted places.

Robyn
I'm a professional, remember? I took care of everything personally. As far as anyone is concerned I'm simply going down to Boise to meet an old friend from High School. So, did you get any more information on him?

Hans-Raoul
[sighs heavily] No, but I'm still working on it. I'll call you once I have something more definite. I did manage to find the name of someone who might be able to help you out. His name is... let me see... Ah, here. A mister Robert Malevolent. Apparently he lives in the town of Atlantica, just outside of Boise proper.

Robyn
His last name is Malevolent?

Hans-Raoul
Apparently he comes from a long line of Malevolents. He's a student at the local branch of the DeVry School for Evil Genius.

Robyn
You're kidding, right?

Hans-Raoul
No, and frankly if I was, I would have picked something better.

Robyn
Do you have an address or description of this Malevolent guy?

Hans-Raoul
I've got a few things. Unfortunately not a ton of details about the guy. Best I can say is go there and look for a guy walking a really big dog. I'm not sure how much that helps you. I'll call you if I find out anything more.

Robyn
You're not giving me a heck of a lot to go on, you know.

Hans-Raoul
I know, and I apologize. But you understand that time is of the essence.

Robyn
You owe me, Galerkin.

Hans-Raoul
Find the objective, and I assure you that you will be rewarded beyond your dreams.

Robyn simply hung up, and had a very large daydream.


Robyn Cheung sat shivering in her bright green Ford Escort rental car. Although Boise is significantly further south than her normal haunt of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, the blowing fog drove the temperature down to a festive 7°C. Her silk jacket offered little warmth against the cold, and she hadn't noticed that the vehicle had a broken heater until she had reached the outskirts of Atlantica and (incidentally) the fog.

She sat, shivering, and looking out across the sea-side park where appropriately dressed people walked dogs of nearly every size. The largest dog she had seen was a bull mastiff being escorted by a rather tough-looking but decidedly feminine individual. She kept her mind active by imagining various and increasingly less subtle means of torture that she would inflict upon Hans-Raoul upon her return.

On the main road, an SUV pulled up to the main light. In it, a white, middle class youth of the suburbs was getting in touch with his gangsta rapper nature. Like all of his ilk he insisted on sharing his poor choice in music with everyone in the neighborhood. She felt the regular driving base line vibrate against her cheap car. She thought of the story about the chickens in Australia who died because of the nearby factory's seven-hertz frequency matching the resonance frequency of their heads and scrambling their brains. She smiled, imagining the same outcome for the idiot in the truck.

It did her little good, as the bass line seemed to grow increasingly louder and louder. She looked in her rear view mirror to see if she could somehow will the moron to turn down his damn music, but the truck was no longer there.

Instead the only thing she saw was a man, wearing an all weather coat walking along the sidewalk toward the beach.

The bass line continued to grow louder and louder as she stared at the man. She kept wondering where the speakers were right up until a massive metallic paw landed squarely beside her car. Her head snapped around to see a huge metallic robot dog happily trotting its way along, clearly the source of the overwhelming vibration. The dog was easily the size of a bus, yet the man walked comfortably next to the thing.

Robyn snapped her jaw closed and tried to collect her senses. This, undoubtedly, was her contact. She opened her car door and stepped out into the blowing fog. It was then she realized that the car, even unheated, was still far warmer than the outside temperature. Still, Robyn was a professional, and she had a job to do.

She walked toward the man who was throwing a stick for the metal behemoth to play fetch with. If it wasn't so outlandishly surreal, it would look quite normal. Oddly, no one else in the park even flinched at the massive machine racing along after the stick. They simply walked along as if it were an every day occurrence.

Bob
You're not exactly dressed for the weather, Ms. Cheung.

Robyn froze where she stood. The man had not even looked at her, instead had simply waited for his "dog" to return with the stick.

Bob
Margie? Storage.

The dog sat and Bob opened up a compartment on the dog's - Margie's - side. He pulled out an old insulated flannel jacket turned and handed it to Robyn.

Bob
You had best put this on before you catch a cold. Feel free to keep it if you like. My wife hates it.

Bob closed the compartment and threw the stick. In a flash Margie was again bounding down the beach after the branch. Robyn tried to keep her feet during the resulting minor groundshake. She pulled the jacket on. Apparently the compartment Bob had pulled the jacket from was heated. Although it was a truly hideous garment, to Robyn its warmth and comfort were beyond measure. She pulled it close and tried to warm up.

Robyn
How did you know who I am?

Bob
I presume for the same reasons that your company told you to come look for me.

Bob turned and smiled. He was far from a strikingly handsome man, but he had a certain rugged charm about him. Bob extended his hand.

Bob
Hi, I'm Bob Malevolent.

Robyn coyly returned his smile and gently shook his hand. His hands were a bit rough, but not the hands of a laborer. His grip was firm, but not crushing. Robyn stepped a bit closer while she kept Bob locked in the corner of her eye. She turned on all of her well-practiced charm.

She felt a sudden warm down draft and looked up to see Margie's head looming over her. Robyn had no idea how something that huge could sneak up on her, and she let out a bit of a startled yelp.

Bob laughed, reached up and patted the side of Margie's snout.

Bob
You'll have to forgive Margie here. She tends to be worse than my wife. Your car will be safe there if you want to join us on the rest of our walk.

Robyn looked quickly at her shoes.

Bob
Oh, don't worry, it's mostly pavement, and not that far. Besides, you could always expense yourself a new pair and claim it as "entertainment costs".

Robyn liked the way that this Bob fellow thought. Bob stuffed his hands into his jacket pockets and started walking back the way he had come. Robyn slinked an arm around one of Bob's and fell in very close. Margie fell in rear keeping a possibly overly watchful eye on Robyn. Robyn tried not to let her reaction to that show, instead opting for a more flirty tone.

Robyn
So, Bob.. May I call you Bob? Good. So, Bob.. I'm betting you're wondering why I came all this way just to meet you.

If Bob hadn't mentioned the fact that he was married, twice, Robyn would have sworn that the man was gay. He seemed completely oblivious to the fact that he had a jaw-droppingly beautiful woman wrapped around his arm. Instead, he kept his eyes focused ahead of him and his face in perfect Poker form.

Bob No, not really. I presume this must have to do with the Silicon Elemental that is supposed to be in Boise.

Robyn was beginning to find Bob's tendency to know far more than he should increasingly annoying. Still, she did her best not to let it show.

Robyn
Well, yes, that is one of the reasons I'm here, but there is another reason, too.

Bob raised an eyebrow, but kept looking straight ahead.

Bob
Oh, really?

Robyn
Why, yes. We've heard quite a bit about you, Mr. Malevolent, and we're interested in knowing if you'd like to join our team.

Bob stopped in his tracks and stared at Robyn. He wasn't smiling, but he wasn't angry, either. Robyn grinned a bit internally, knowing that she had managed to tell Bob something he hadn't expected. After a few quiet heart beats, Bob returned his gaze to the road ahead and his face returned to the inscrutable pleasant grin he had been wearing.

Bob
Well, now that is a surprise. We shall have to talk about that later, and of course, I'll have to ask my wife what she thinks.

Robyn
Ah, is your wife the prime decision maker?

Robyn was pulled backwards slightly when Bob stopped walking. She looked up at him, and he caught her eyes squarely in his. He was neither angry or in denial, but simply spoke in measured tones that raised the hair on the back of Robyn's neck

Bob
Ms. Cheung, my wife and I are both very happily married. The things that keep us that way are trust, cooperation, and consideration. My wife is my partner as well as my soulmate and I would never make any major decision without her advice and consent, the sme way that she would never make a decision without mine.

With that simple declaration, Bob again began walking toward the house. Robyn looked up at Margie who seemed to wear the same expression on her fixed metal visage. Robyn slid her arm out from Bob's and began walking next to him, at a more comfortable distance.

They reached the reasonably nondescript house after a few quiet blocks. Margie trotted ahead and with a single bound cleared the structure and landed in the backyard.

Bob
I really wish I could break her of that habit. I know we're just raising holy heck with the neighbor's china cabinets... Come inside and we can have a cup of tea and talk a bit.

Bob strode up the walkway toward the door. He unlocked the door and went inside first.

He called to his wife and gave her the kind of hug and kiss that newly married couples tend to give each other. Robyn had a sudden flash of Ozzie and Harriet that caused her to chuckle a bit. Bob began to take off his jacket as he did an informal introduction.

Bob
Honey, this is that woman I told you might be stopping by today. Turns out she has a rather interesting proposal as well. Robyn Cheung, this is my wife Avalon.

Avalon was not a strikingly beautiful woman, but kept herself quite well. She was on the thinner side of average with shoulder length black hair cut in a popular casual fashion. She wore a long sleeve shirt beneath a simple sweater and blue jeans. If Robyn had to pick one woman she could imagine Bob to be married to, this woman would most likely be her.

Avey
Oh God! Please, call me Avey. The only people who call me Avalon are the priest who married us, and Bob when he wants to embarrass me in front of guests.

Avey shook Robyn's hand politely.

Avey
Bob? Is that your old jacket? I thought you were going to give that to Salvation Army.

Bob
Yes, and yes. But I figured that it might come in handy today, and I was right. I promise, it'll be gone tomorrow.

Robyn
Actually, it was a life-saver this afternoon. Apparently I hadn't counted on the weather being like this.

Avey gave Robyn's outfit an overtly critical eye and Robyn felt more than a bit uncomfortable.

Bob
I'm going to put the kettle on. Do you want tea or coffee?

Robyn
Oh, tea would be fine.

Avey
Bob, don't worry about it, I'll take care of the tea.

Bob
Oh, thanks, Angel.

He gave his wife a quick kiss again. Robyn was growing a bit ill at the general show of affection.

Bob
Ms. Cheung and I have some additional stuff to talk about. School stuff.

Avey just held up her hands and shook her head.

Avey
Good. Go into the Den and I'll bring your tea in when it's ready. Do you want anything with it?

Bob
No, Ms. Cheung?

Robyn
Hmm? No, no, just the tea. I just need to warm up really.

Bob
Well, this way to the Den, then...


Mark practically leapt from his front door. Bob reached over to unlock the passenger door to his truck (or, as Avey called it, "His Rolling Deathtrap"). But then Avey had no appreciation for family heirlooms like the eighty-year-old flatbed truck.

Besides, Bob found that sitting in this truck was the best place for him to think, and he really needed to do that right about now.

"So, who are we going to meet?" Mark said with a trace of excitement.

"Probably the biggest threat to your life," Bob said without embellishment.

Mark sat staring at Bob, waiting for the punchline. He figured he missed it and started to laugh.

"I'm being quite serious, Mark." Bob returned quietly with a voice that scared Mark. "Mark, I'm going to need your help. I need you to trust me and listen very carefully to what I am going to tell you. Do you understand?"

Mark nodded.

"Good."

With a great deal of mechanical complaint, Bob started up the old truck and pulled out onto the street.


In a way, Mark was starting to get used to being stuffed into closets. Ok, so this time it wasn't being stuffed in a closet so much as being stuffed in among a bunch of crates, but he was there carefully watching Bob, and doing his best to keep a low profile.

Part of him wondered why Bob had brought him along if this was so dangerous. Oddly though, his paranoia wasn't buzzing as badly as normal. Even though he really didn't know that much about the man seated at a small table near the far end of the room, he felt he could trust him.

Bob had said that it was important that Mark not use any of his powers unless Mark's life was in peril, and then it was no holds barred. Mark had worried that Bob might be hurt. Bob had laughed and said not to worry, because he'd be dead by then.

The main door opened and a woman walked in.


Deuterium Boy was examining the photo of the Komrade Kocoa Kamikazee Karamel Kaluha Kollision, trying to see if the stuff sprinkled on top was nuts or cookie fragments while trying not to look like he was ogling the waiter's chest, when things started to happen.

Hydrogen Guy and JB suddenly looked at each other. HG pulled the vial of colloidal silicic acid he and JB had manufactured earlier. Not only was it buzzing like a cell phone to his Elemental senses, but the opaque white goop was gone, replaced by a perfect single crytsal of quartz suspended in water.

"That's not good, is it?" asked JB. Hydrogen Guy shook his head. Deuterium Boy dismissed the waiter with an order foir the check, proto.

"Can you use that to home in on the elemental?" Chris asked.

"Maybe...," HG said. He began to scan the bottle around. As he did, his and JB's eyes began to grow wider.

"Ok... this is bad... We'd better get outside."


Even if Mark were able to talk, the only thing he probably would have said would be "Whoa."

The woman who walked in was without a doubt the hottest babe Mark had seen. She was pure style, and looked like she just walked off one of those BeBe ads they had down at the mall, and was dressed about the same, in theory professional, but Mark bet that those clothes were more for play.

Seriously, Mark swore that when she turned he could catch a glimpse of her --


The Heroes dove for cover. The building they had been standing next to rippled, then a wave of dust exploded up the length of the structure, leaving behind it a murky crystalline replica of itself.

Chris was on his feet instantly and barking orders. "JB, you and HG see if you can spot any others! DB, check the perimeter for any victims!" Chris sprinted into the building. DB took ran toward a group of people who had been standing nearby.

Hydrogen Guy looked slightly disappointed. "Hey, that's my line..."


Ok, calm thoughts, Mark, calm thoughts. She's hot, but she's also supposed to take you out.

Damn, I wish I could hear what her and Bob are talking about. She seems irritated.

Man what if she freaks out and does some ninja move on Bob? Well, if she does I hope it's a kick because that skirt just barely covers her --


"AAAGGGHH!" JB recoiled as a second building erupted into quartz, spraying the area with a mist of lime and grit from the former concrete.

"JB," Hydrogen Guy asked relatively calmly, "are you planning on panicking?"

"Yes, actually."

"Oh, good. I hate to be panicking alone."


Bob was the picture of serenity and calm, and played the perfect Yin to Robyn's Yang. Robyn on the other hand, was becoming increasingly frustrated and vocal. Mark could catch fragments of the conversation mostly from Robyn. Things like "bounty", "promised" and "capture".

These were not words that made Mark feel comfortable. In fact, he felt a growing knot in his stomach. Was Bob just trying to up the ante? Was he going to be sold off to this Robyn chick as her personal slave or something? Not that it would be all bad, Mark thought, sure, he'd lose his personal freedom, but he'd be the one handing her the towel when she got out of the --


Detective Wallace turned when he heard the loud clang. Chris slid down the wall, held immobile as his liquisteel body armor held him in the awkward and more than a bit uncomfortable position. By the time Wallace reached him, Chris was able to move again.

"Grayhound, what the hell is going on?"

"Your guess is as good as mine," Chris said as he got to his feet. "As far as we can tell, it's due to some character that has control over silicon. The good news is that the folks inside the buildings are fine. A few scrapes and frayed nerves, but they're ok."

"We're evacuating the area now."

"It's just these few blocks?"

"Yes. Do you have any idea how to stop it?" Wallace asked.

"No, but we lucked out. We've got the best guys on the planet helping us. Hydrogen Guy and Deuterium Boy."

A strange creaking got Chris' attention. He turned and looked upwards. The tops of the buildings seemed to be growing and merging together. Chris looked to Wallace.

"Do you need any assistance in getting this area secure?"

"No."

"Then I've got to get back in there." Without another word, Chris raised his grappling line and fired the hook toward the rooftop. He pressed a button and shot upwards.

This time he hoped he'd have a better landing than the last one.


Bob still looked very much in control. The woman had settled down a bit and was listening with crossed arms. Bob was smiling again and using calming gestures.

Mark was having a hard time hearing anything. He wondered if he could... No! Bob said that he shouldn't do anything.

But what if Bob was in on this?

No. If Bob were, he would have just turned Mark over to that chick at the beginning instead of going through all this hassle. This didn't look like a haggling session, there was something else going on, here. Mark still wished he could hear.

Maybe he could try reading lips! Well, Bob's kind of hard to read with that mustache, and besides the woman is speaking now. Ok, focus try to figure out what she's saying with those full, red, luscious, ...


B-KANG!

KRONNNNG!

K-KAAAANNG!

TONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGG!

"Chris? You ok?" JB said as he raced up to where his brother lay.

Chris moaned. "Must tell Annie to crank down rewind more..."

The armor relaxed and Chris slowly got to his feet. "Any idea where our Silicon Buddy is?"

"No, we're getting a bit too much interference from the neighborhood."

"Does it make sense to try from out of ground zero?"

"No, I don't think it will," Hydrogen Guy admitted. "Unfortunately, the jar is more an indicator than a compass."

"So that leaves us with what?" Chris asked as he tried to think of something.

"Maybe we can let the Elemental lead the way," The Detective said via DB.

"Wow." Chris remarked to JB, "you know it's kinda creepy when he does that voice thing."

"What about when I'm doing it?" JB said in semi-protest.

"You're easier to ignore."

"Of course!" Hydrogen Guy said. "These outbursts have to have their origin somewhere, and that has to be where the Silicon Elemental is! We can use the Scan-o-matics to trace the route."

"Cool, how long do you think it might take?"

"Hmm, we've got to isolate all the silicon deposits and determine which ones are active, then we have to do triangulation scans to determine the location of the central vein, and then we calculate the path depending on the amount of energy that we figure he's putting out."

Another building exploded into crystal and joined the arching structure that towered over downtown.

"My guess is that the power level is well into the 'Horrendous' region. Look, how long is all that math and scanning going to take?"

"I'm not sure really, I suppose fifteen, twenty minutes to an hour or so if we're off."

"An hour? By that time downtown will be gone!" Chris put a hand to his head to concentrate. "There's got to be another way. What can we do to quartz that would effect him? Any good ideas, Dr. Science?"

"Sorry, you're the only one I know with rocks in his head. I'm into electricity."

Chris suddenly had an idea.

"Electricity! How does the quartz in a watch work?"

Hydrogen Guy suddenly got the same idea. "Well, yeah, but where are we going to get that kind of power supply?"

"That's my problem. How much energy do we need?"

"Remember that 'Horrendous' scale you mentioned before..."

Chris fished out his guy line again. "I'll be back in a few minutes. Can you use that Geiger counter whatzit to figure out which of these is the most active vein?"

"Well, yeah, but I don't see --"

Chris disappeared as he arched over a building. A moment lkater they heard a semi-metallic clanging.

"AND I HOPE THAT HURT!" Hydrogen Guy yelled to the echo.



Zzzzzzzzzzz Huh? Wha! Oh, it's over.
Oh, thank God!
Geez, Lord of the Rings wasn't this long.

Microphone?

Jumpin' Gypsum!

Is Bob planning on selling off Mark to the highest bidder?

Is Mark going to have to say he's getting something other
than a woody?

And what exactly does Chris and HG have in mind?

Tune in Next Friday to The Files of Hydrogen Guy for the thrilling conclusion..

Battle to Draw the Elemental
or
The Silicon Graph Fight

Previous Chapter
Insult me in the Forum
Next Chapter